Congregations for Children (C4C) is a process, rather than a program, by which the church/churches develop on-going partnerships with schools and each other in order to continually strengthen and expand support for our neighbors in need. Initiatives are monitored and evaluated in order to continue on the path to perfection.
Each church, school, and community is unique and therefore, the process should be uniquely developed according to the needs and resources available. Schools offer an opportunity to reach children and families who are often hidden and not a part of our daily lives.
C4C Focus Areas...
Understanding Poverty and Advocacy
C4C provides opportunities for our faith communities to grow in understanding of and in response to poverty. The first challenge is for congregation members to begin to know children and families, by name, not to “fix” the broken and needy among us, but to love our neighbors so all may grow in that love. Getting to know our neighbors provides opportunities to understand the challenges that come with poverty. By listening to their stories, we are better able to respond and to advocate. Participation in poverty seminars, poverty simulation, and poverty studies is one component of the initiative. Sessions are offered at the district level of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Literacy is directly related to school success. 75% of prison inmates are high school dropouts and 80% are illiterate. Reading is a critical component to success. Churches are engaged in initiatives during and/or after school. These programs include tutoring, mentoring and Reading Buddy, as well as other reading programs. C4C provides guidelines for developing a Reading Buddy program. Attention should be paid to the management of the volunteers.
It is hard to work, study, and learn on an empty stomach. Inadequate food, clothing, shelter, etc., is very real for many of our neighbors. Provision of basic needs should be part of the plan, but not central to it. In order to help children and families move beyond poverty, the relationship and education components should be central to the plan, followed by attention to basic needs.
This is an important part of the C4C process of providing support to young children so they may have success in their lives. Building relationships through family engagement helps to provide support to those who seek a way out of the trap of poverty.
As the overall C4C process moves forward, churches should begin to work collectively, seeking solutions that focus on poverty reduction.